Dubai:Pakistan, forced to play here because of concerns about safety back home, will aim to capitalise on world champions Australia's slump in form in a five-match one-day series starting on Wednesday.
Australia have not played a one-dayer against Pakistan since February 2005 and have been performing way below their best -- with their air of invincibility very much snuffed out.
In recent times they lost a home series against South Africa 1-4 and drew a five-match series against New Zealand earlier this year, before going down 2-3 in South Africa last week.
To make matters worse, Australia will be without several key players, resting skipper Ricky Ponting, senior batsman Michael Hussey and in-form paceman Mitchell Johnson. Michael Clarke is standing in for Ponting.
They have also lost key fast bowler Brett Lee to an ankle injury. He has been replaced with left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger.
Despite those notable absences, Clarke hopes Australia will be able to improve on their recent results in one-day cricket.
"It's a different opposition, completely different conditions from where we are coming from and I hope we take some confidence from the last game we won in South Africa," said Clarke, 28.
But his team will not underestimate Pakistan, despite having beaten them in nine of their last ten matches.
"I think Pakistan is a strong side and I guess they will feel more like home than us with heat and other conditions," said Clarke.
With several teams including Australia refusing to visit Pakistan because of fears for their safety -- the Sri Lankan team was targeted in March by militants in Lahore -- Pakistan captain Younus Khan admitted they had not played enough top-notch cricket.
To add to the misery surrounding Pakistan cricket, the country was stripped of its 2011 World Cup matches last week, so Younus knows the pressure is on his side to provide some much-needed relief on the field.
"It's a very significant series for us because we did not play against big teams last year and I hope we capitalise on Australia's recent form," said Younus, who took over from Shoaib Malik two months ago.
"Australia may not be at full strength, but we just can't afford to take them lightly and have to play above our potential to win this series."
The series will also provide an opportunity to Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds and Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to revive their international careers -- both plagued by discipline and fitness problems.
Australia, who have not toured Pakistan since 1998, forced this series to neutral venues on security grounds. After the second match here on Friday, the remaining three matches (April 27, May 1 and 3) will be played in Abu Dhabi.
The only Twenty20 match will be played here on May 7.
Pakistan: Younus Khan (capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shahzad, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Yasir Arafat, Saeed Ajmal.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken, Callum Ferguson, Brett Geeves, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Ben Laughlin, Doug Bollinger, Shaun Marsh, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL), Nadeem Ghouri (PAK)
Tv umpire: Asad Rauf (PAK)
Match-referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)